Building a Collaborative Nonprofit Board Team

Nonprofit boards depend on collaboration to function effectively. They collaborate with each other with committee members, committee members, as well as staff members to help support the mission of the nonprofit. The dynamics of the board can encourage or hinder collaboration.

One CEO of a non-profit organization told me about a cooperative board of directors which was plagued by conflict, conflicting interests, and mistrust. The executive director of the board brought in an expert to help get the group back on track. She asked the chair of the board to engage in honest discussions with the group. The chair reluctantly agreed.

The consultant noticed that the chair had close relationships with certain members of the team, and also had a tendency to play favorites. She also observed that the chair was unable communicate effectively, and didn’t understand how to create trust among the team.

Boards can help encourage the development of a strong collaborative culture by ensuring that new and existing board members are ready to participate. When onboarding new members ensure that they are prepared to work in a cooperative environment by introducing them to other board members and allowing them to work with staff members of the organization in small groups prior to the first board meeting. This will allow them to become familiar with the organization, its leadership, and develop important connections. Make available resources to encourage collaboration among members, like an online portal for board members. This allows board members to communicate with one another in between meetings. Planning a board retreat or other get-togethers, can also encourage friendship.






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